This St. George idea all began last year on May 1st. I was 4 days removed from surgery and was still wearing a big cast on my lower leg protecting my surgically repaired achilles tendon. I was instructed to elevate as much as possible for the 1st week to reduce swelling so I found a nice spot on the couch where I spent most of my time with my left leg propped up on the back of the couch. The Saturday of May 1st I knew Ironman St. George was happening so I logged onto the computer and watched nearly all of it live through the coverage put on by Universal Sports. As I was watching I got hooked. By the end of the day I decided that if I was healthy in 2011 I was going to race in St. George to celebrate 1 year post-surgery. I'm now less than 5 weeks away and I'm growing more anxious for this race every day. I've been preparing myself mentally for how I'm going to handle this tough course. I've read race reports, talked to people who raced it last year, and analyzed race times. I'm anxious to find out where I will stack up with the rest of the souls brave enough to conquer this beast of a course.
Over the past week I've really had a shift in my training. Through most of the first 20 weeks I was constantly pushing my body to the limits. I've worked out every day but 1 since November 1st and through most of the first 20 weeks I was taking 1 really easy day each week and the rest were filled with pretty high volume. The volume was definitely not always intense but even 3 hours of workout time was not uncommon during the easy days. This past week I began taking more really easy days between key hard workout days. With the big race fast approaching I want to make sure my key days are good ones. Although my total volume was nothing to be amazed by this week (62 run miles, 154 biking, and 12,000 swim yards) I had some really good days. Tuesday I did my first hill interval of the year on the bike at the legendary Wilkes Hill. Those are absolutely awesome for building power quickly on the bike. I have been able to see and feel improvements each week that I do this ride in the past. Wilkes is a hill that is not much longer than 1/4 mile but the grade is ridiculous! My average power output through the hill when I'm standing out of the saddle is about 650 watts to the top. Every 4th hill we stay seated and my power output is about 500 watts. This is nothing crazy but when I'm used to peaking out in the 350 range on the trainer all winter these hills really help me boost my power in a hurry. Tuesday was also a 30 minute time trial swim in the pool that my new coach, Stacey Zapolski had me do. I swam 82 lenths in 30 minutes and 1 second. That is only 65 yards short of a 1/2 Ironman distance in a pool where I have to stop and turn around every 25 yards. It is 3:00 less than I swam the 1/2 IM in Puerto Rico which tells me I'm a better swimmer than I showed.
Wednesday night I did the "group ride" in the Quad Cities which was well attended for a cold night. There were between 40 and 50 riders who began the ride. I took turns with about 7 other up front sharing the load on the pace setting. I have come to really enjoy this ride. It is really like doing a fartlek workout on a bike. The effort is constantly changing based on my position in the rotation. Near the end of the ride I like to empty the tank with a big lead out heading to the final sprint. The group always has a sprint finish near the end and I realize I'm probably never going to win the sprint but I love to see if I can reduce the number of challengers by making a big breakaway long before the sprint. I thought we had about 5 miles to go so I jumped to the front with a single goal of putting myself through shear pain for 5 miles. I knew some of the guys would get on my wheel and be able to hang. I hammered as hard as I could until my legs were fried. Just before where I thought we were finished one of the 2 guys who stayed on my wheel yelled that we were turning which meant the sprint wasn't actually for another few miles. I was shot. I had put in my solid 5 miles and had little left in the tank. After the ride finished up I got off my bike to do a 4 mile brick run at goal 1/2 Ironman pace (5:45/mile). I got into a good rhythm and ran the 4 miles in 22:14 (5:33/mile). It was a big confidence booster. Thursday and Friday were both really easy days in preparation for a big weekend of training with Adam Bohach.
Saturday I had a really tough swim workout first thing in the morning. After that I got on the bike and rode toward Clinton while Adam rode toward Le Claire. We met about 12 miles into the ride and did a 90 mile ride in super tough wind. It was awesome having Adam along to share the workload and he even added on to get over 100 for the ride. Sunday morning I drove up to Clinton to meet Adam for a long run. Jen went with since there was a 4 mile road race in Clinton. She dropped me off at 8:00 and I went with Adam for 2 hrs. 30 minutes covering 23 miles. Adam doesn't have a slow pace and we held under 6:30 pace for the majority of the run. It was hard for me to believe I was only 3 miles away from a 2:50 marathon time in a training run. We even went through the course Jen was running and saw her during our run. She won her race in a great time of 23:20. She actually only lost to 2 guys in the race. The 23 mile run was my longest ever and will be the furthest I go before St. George. The way I felt even in the last 3 miles made me realize I need to get off the bike feeling strong. If I can get to the run with good legs I should be able to have a great race. Running with Adam on these long runs has been tremendously beneficial to me. Following my run on Sunday I got to the pool for some solid drill work. After that I was got a massage from Laurel Darren and she told me if I rode my bike that evening after the massage she was going to "punch me in the face" and since I know Laurel is tough as nails I listened to her advice and didn't ride. She is smart about knowing the importance of letting me rest after getting a deep tissue massage. Good advice.
My 1 year old son Owen is obsessed with my bike. I think he has 3 shirts that have the big ring imprinted on them from falling into the grease filled crank on my bike. Our amazing daycare provider Jeanette Cotton got Owen his first bike trainer to ride for his birthday a few weeks ago. Both kids enjoy riding it next to dad when he is on the trainer. Payton hasn't quite figured out how her helmet is supposed to go yet but she's loving the trainer and I'm not too worried about her needing the helmet indoors. 5 weeks to go...the reality is here that I'm in this race...I'm 100% healthy...100% in the best shape I've ever been and I couldn't be more excited. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!